How to Become a Cosmetologist in Missouri

If you want to earn a cosmetology license through the Missouri State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners, follow these steps:

Enter Zip:
Get your Education and Training in Cosmetology
Pass the Cosmetology Examination
Receive and Maintain Your Missouri Cosmetology License
Find Work in Missouri’s Salon Industry

Cosmetologists in Missouri recently made news when they stood up to state legislators who proposed changing the licensing process. Legislators proposed House Bill 590, which would eliminate the license requirement for cosmetologists in Missouri. Professionals fought back, stating that cosmetology is a science and its practitioners need specialized training in the use of chemicals and sanitation. The public hearing on the bill was held in 2013 and no more hearings are scheduled at this time.

The message that Missouri’s cosmetology industry sent is clear – specialized training is needed if you want to become a cosmetologist in Missouri. Thankfully, many Board-approved training programs are available at schools all across the state.



Step 1. Get your Education and Training in Cosmetology

Your first step along the pathway to becoming a cosmetologist in Missouri is to get the right training. The Missouri State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners recognizes two types of training, either of which will fulfill their requirement:

  • You may complete 1500 hours of cosmetology training at a Board-approved school (a list of such schools is found here)
  • You may complete 3000 hours of training as an apprentice under the supervision of a licensed cosmetologist

You must be at least 17 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED prior to beginning training at a cosmetology school, as well as complete the state’s Student Enrollment Form.

There are many approved schools all across Missouri, in cities including:

  • Louis
  • Springfield
  • Poplar Bluff
  • Sedalia
  • Independence
  • Hannibal
  • Kansas City
  • Chillicothe
  • Jefferson City
  • Farmington
  • Branson

If you choose the school route to obtain your cosmetology training in Missouri, you will complete 1500 hours of combined theoretical and practical training. The Board requires that you complete the following number hours of training in each of the listed areas:

  • Shampooing of all kinds – 40 hours
  • Hair coloring, rinses and bleaches 130 hours
  • Hair cutting and shaping – 130 hours
  • Permanent waving and relaxing – 125 hours
  • Hair setting, pin curls, thermal curling, finger paves – 225 hours
  • Comb-outs and hair styling methods- 105 hours
  • Scalp treatments and diseases – 30 hours
  • Facial, eyebrows and arches – 40 hours
  • Manicuring, hand and arm massage, nail treatment – 110 hours
  • Cosmetic chemistry – 25 hours
  • Salesmanship and shop management – 10 hours
  • Sanitation and sterilization – 30 hours
  • Anatomy- 20 hours
  • State law – 10 hours
  • Miscellaneous – 470 hours
    • Usually includes subjects such as AIDS, drug abuse prevention, first aid, cells and skin disorders, and superfluous hair removal)

If you decide upon the apprenticeship route to fulfill the Board’s training requirement for licensure as a cosmetologist in Missouri, you must obtain an enrollment form from the Board at (573) 751-1052 and return the form to the licensed cosmetologist that will serve as your apprentice supervisor. Your supervisor must complete and approve the form and submit it to the Board.

Along with the form, you must include proof of age (birth certificate or driver’s license), two character references, two passport-sized photos of yourself taken within the past five years, and proof that you have completed at least the 10th grade. You will receive an apprentice license, which must be displayed in the establishment in which you are training at all times.

Your supervisor will submit reports of your progress as an apprentice to the Board.



Step 2. Pass the Cosmetology Examination

Once you have finished your cosmetology training or apprenticeship in Missouri, you are ready to take the Missouri State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners Exam. Complete the Application for Examination/Temporary Permit. Depending upon your cosmetology school’s policies, you may either submit this form directly to the Board or your school will submit it for you.

Make sure to notate on the form where you want to take your practical exam, which is given four times a month on Mondays only:

  • Louis- 1st Monday of the month
  • Kansas City – 2nd Monday of the month
  • Jefferson City – 3rd Monday of the month
  • Springfield – 4th Monday of the month

Do not submit any fees with this application. This is done next, when you schedule your exam and submit fees directly to Professional Credential Services online. (Note: You cannot take the exam until you hold a high school diploma or GED.) The total fee is $150 for the theory and practical exam. You will receive an Authorization to Test letter by mail instructing you how to schedule the Theory exam, as well as an Admission Notice for the Practical exam.

Practical Exam

Review this bulletin on the NIC National Cosmetology Practical Examination prior to taking the exam. During the Practical Exam, you will be tested on the following skills:

  • Set up and client protection
  • Thermal curling
  • Hair cutting
  • Chemical waving
  • Virgin hair lightening application and hair color
  • Retouch
  • Virgin relaxer application and relaxer retouch
  • Manicure

You must bring your own mannequin or model to the Practical Exam, as well as your own cold thermal curling iron and supply kit (listed in the bulletin referenced above).

The results of your Practical Exam will be mailed to you 10 days after you take the exam. You must score at least 75 in order to pass.

Theory Exam

The Theory exam is administered through IQT testing, where you will schedule the exam. Review this bulletin for information on this computerized exam. Sites at which this exam is offered include:

  • Southeast Missouri State University – Cape Girardeau
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology – Rolla
  • University of Missouri – Columbia
  • Eldentity Services – St. Peters
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • State Fair Community College – Sedalia
  • Kirksville Area Technical Center- Kirksville
  • Penmac – Springfield
  • Mineral Area College- Park Hills
  • Sylvan Learning – Springfield

You are given 90 minutes to complete questions on the following subjects:

    • Scientific concepts:
      • Infection control
      • Human anatomy
      • Basic physiology
      • Ergonomics/body positioning
      • Basic principles of chemistry
      • Basic principles of electricity


    • Hair care and services:
      • Trichology
      • Draping procedures
      • Shampooing, conditioning, massaging and brushing procedures
      • Principles of hair design
      • Hair cutting procedures
      • Hair styling procedures
      • Wigs, hair enhancements and extensions
      • Chemical services consultation
      • Chemical services
      • Hair coloring procedures


    • Skin care and services:
      • Skin histology
      • Skin care services consultation
      • Draping procedures for facial services
      • Temporary hair removal procedures
      • Facial procedures
      • Facial makeup application


  • Nail care and services:
    • Nail care service consultation
    • Nail structure
    • Manicure and pedicure procedures
    • Advanced nail care

The proctor will print your score report after you complete the Theory Exam, and it will simply say “Pass” or “Fail.” You must score at least 75 in order to pass.



Step 3. Receive and Maintain Your Missouri Cosmetology License

Congratulations! You have passed the Theory and Practical Examinations and will receive your license by mail shortly! The application you submitted for the examination also serves as a temporary permit, so you may begin working right away without waiting for the full license.

Your Missouri cosmetology license expires on September 30 of every odd year. Renewal involves completing the renewal form, which should be mailed to you prior to your license’s expiration, and paying a $30 renewal fee to the Board.

No continuing education is required to maintain a cosmetology license in Missouri.



Step 4. Find Work in Missouri’s Salon Industry

Salons and spas abound across the state of Missouri. There are other settings in which cosmetologists work, too. Branson is full of resorts that have their own salons and may be in need of cosmetologists. Athletic clubs in larger cities like Kansas City and St. Louis may also be in need of cosmetologists. Medical facilities often hire cosmetologists to make their patients feel good about themselves.

Here are a few more examples of places Missouri cosmetologists find jobs or rent chairs:

  • HairIS-Jefferson City
  • John Knox Village- Lee’s Summit
  • ULTA Salon, Cosmetics and Fragrance, Inc. – Chesterfield and Blue Springs
  • Beauty Brands – Lee’s Summit
  • Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehab – Saint Joseph
  • Brow Art 23 – Chesterfield
  • Sport Clips – Ballwin
  • Dillard’s Salons and Spas – Richmond Heights
  • YRS Boutique and Spa – Chesterfield
  • 1st Impressions Spa & Cuts – Saint Robert

You may wish to open your own salon one day, after you have a bit of salon experience. In order to do so, you must file an Application for Establishment Registration with the Board. This must be accompanied by a floor plan, copy of your bill of sale or lease agreement for the establishment, copy of your current business license, copy of your business’ Fictitious Name Statement, and correct fees.

Back to Top